Australia runs low, but still won’t accept gay blood

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Yesterday the Australian blood service pleaded with people to donate, saying that it only has 36 hours worth of supplies left.

Today, the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal will hear why the Australian Red Cross thinks gay blood isn’t safe enough.

23-year-old Michael Cain is bringing the action against the Red Cross. He argues that they should consider how safe a donor’s sexual conduct is, rather than excluding people on the basis of their sexual preference.

“A new donor-screening policy based on the safety of donors’ sexual practices rather than the gender of their sexual partners would make the blood supply safer,” Mr Cain told The Hobart Mercury last month.

Currently the Red Cross Blood Service will not accept donations from sexually active gay or bisexual men. Meanwhile, they admitted yesterday they may have to start importing blood supplies.

Only 3% of Australians have given blood in the last year

Only Italy and Spain accept blood from sexually active gay men, but there are challenges to exclusion policies in South Africa, the UK and the US.

A spokeswoman for the Red Cross said: “Our number one concern is the safety of the blood supply and one of the factors we take into account is lifestyle.

“The other big one that would affect Tasmania is UK exclusion because there is no reliable test for CJD.”